Griffs add point guard Atkinson to compete roster

By Nick Veronica

Canisius got a verbal commitment from point guard Chris Atkinson Tuesday night, filling the Griffs’ final scholarship opening that was created by Jan Grzelinski’s departure.

Atkinson

Atkinson

Atkinson played point guard for Long Island Lutheran, which was the New York State Sportswriters Associations’ top-ranked team on Long Island and 14th-ranked team statewide in Class AA.

Atkinson (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) was not rated by Rivals but is listed as having offers from Iona and Northeasten.

Atkinson gave a verbal commit to MAAC foe Monmouth in October, but apparently became decommitted at some point between then and now. A verbal commitment is non-binding and is not “official” until the athlete signs a Letter of Intent.

(Atkinson’s Twitter name is Michael Scofield, a character from the show Prison Break)

I expected Jim Baron to target a forward with his final opening, but Atkinson’s commit gives Canisius the same numbers it had last season: five forwards, eight guards.

Canisius roster (*new for 2015-16):

Guards (8)

Malcolm McMillan*, redshirt senior
Jamal Reynolds, senior
Kiefer Douse*, junior
Kassius Robertson, sophomore
Adam Weir, sophomore
Raven Owen, redshirt freshman
Isaiah Gurley, redshirt freshman
Chris Atkinson*, freshman

Forwards (5)

Kevin Bleeker, senior
Phil Valenti, junior
Jermaine Crumpton, sophomore
Cassidy Ryan, sophomore
Ronald Gombe*, freshman

Canisius to play in Las Vegas Classic

lasvegasclassic

By Nick Veronica

Canisius will play in the 2015 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, an eight-team event that promises four games, with the final two at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on December 22 and 23.

Other teams in the event include SMU, Colorado, Penn State, Kent State, Louisiana-Monroe, Nicholls State and Hampton. Opponents will be announced at a later date.

Each school’s first two games will be held on campus sites, with SMU and Penn State already announcing both of their games will be at home.

Tickets for the Las Vegas portion of the event, sold only in two-day packages, begin at $47. (This event should not be confused with the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational, a similar event held in November.)

Third-place and championship games of the tournament — on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 9 and 11:30 p.m. EST — will be shown live on Fox Sports 1. Past winners of the event include Kansas State (2008), Alabama (2009), New Mexico (2010), Baylor (2011), Colorado State (2012), UNLV (2013) and Loyola (Ill.) (2014).

UB basketball heads to Duke on Dec. 5

By Nick Veronica

UB has landed a Dec. 5 matchup against defending national champion Duke, continuing its streak of scheduling nonconference games against Goliaths of college basketball.

ublogoThe game was announced Friday in Duke’s schedule release. It will be played at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. at a time yet to be determined.

UB had meetings with No. 1 Kentucky and No. 6 Wisconsin last season in athletic director Danny White’s second year on the job. UB played Texas A&M in White’s first season.

The UB-Duke matchup obviously loses some sizzle with former Blue Devil Bobby Hurley now coaching at Arizona State, but still has the connection of athletic directors: Duke AD Kevin White is Danny White’s father.

UB and Duke have never met in men’s basketball. The Bulls are 1-17 all-time against the ACC, with the win coming against Miami (Fla.) in 2006.

Reid’s future at Niagara uncertain after felony charges

By Nick Veronica

Reid

Reid

The future of Niagara forward Dominique Reid remains uncertain in days after his felony charges were revealed.

An athletic spokesman said Friday that Reid’s status should be considered the same as Wednesday, when athletic director Simon Gray in a statement that Reid “is currently not participating in team activities.” The spokesman said he did not know if it is possible for Reid to rejoin the team at a later date.

Niagara’s student records office said Friday morning that Reid is still enrolled at the university. His name remains on the team roster.

Reid is reportedly facing two felony charges of fourth-degree grand larceny from incidents in December and April, and has a felony charge of second-degree identity theft added to the April incident. He also picked up a misdemeanor charge of second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in October.

[Reid on leave from NU | Buffalo News | Niagara Gazette]

Reid did not miss any game time as result of the mid-season arrest. He played in all 30 games last season and appeared in the first half of every game. The school confirmed Friday that Reid was not put under any other type of non-game related suspension during the season.

niagara_logo_bigReid was Niagara’s third-leading scorer at 9.8 points per game and earned promotion to the starting lineup in the final 13 games of the season. He was named to the conference’s all-rookie team.

Niagara has not had tolerance for legal missteps in the past. Basketball coach Chris Casey parted ways with forward Aaron Bodie after a shoplifting incident in January 2014. Niagara’s hockey team was prompt to suspend a former leading scorer for half a season after a DWI in October 2013. Hockey coach Dave Burkholder said star forward Ryan Murphy was welcome to rejoin the team in mid-January, but Murphy ended up leaving the school.

But for now, as long as Reid remains on the team, Niagara has filled all 13 scholarships for 2015-16. The 15-man roster includes 13 scholarship players and two walk-ons, David Varoli and Thomas Fleming. Casey has brought in eight recruits this offseason to replace the seven departures from a team that had no seniors. (Niagara only used 12 scholarships last season.)

Niagara’s current roster
*new addition for 2015-16

Guards
Emile Blackman
Karonn Davis
Cameron Fowler
Matt Scott
Chris Barton*
Romero Collier*
Kevin Larkin*
Kahlil Dukes*
David Varoli
Thomas Fleming

Forwards
Dominique Reid
Maurice Taylor Jr.*
Alioune Tew*
Dominic Robb*
Marvin Prochet*

Departures: Ramone Snowden, Wesley Myers, Rayvon Harris, James Suber, Julian Richardson, DayJar Dickson, Anders Skou Hansen.

Point guard Grzelinski leaves Canisius; looking at D-II or overseas

By Nick Veronica

Canisius point guard Jan Grzelinski has left the program after one season, team sources confirmed to IAGS.

Grzelinski

Grzelinski

The Polish national is expected to try to land at a Division II school so he won’t have to sit out this season, but is also open the possibility of playing professionally in Poland.

A source said Grzelinski is looking at schools in Florida and California.

The 5-foot-10 guard was facing limited playing time this year after coach Jim Baron brought in veteran transfers Malcolm McMillan and Kiefer Douse.

Grzelinski opened last season as the Griffs’ starting point guard, but struggled with consistency and offensive production as a true freshman. His play time dropped as a result, and he was replaced in the starting lineup late in the year.

Appearing in 32 games, Grzelinski scored just 2.0 points per game, but was second on the team with 60 assists. He added 11 steals and committed 42 turnovers.

Grzelinski’s departure gives coach Jim Baron one more scholarship to use for 2015-16. Since Baron has already pulled in two experienced guards, I would expect him to target a forward with this opening. Here’s the Griffs current roster:

Guards

Kassius Robertson
Malcolm McMillan
Kiefer Douse
Jamal Reynolds
Adam Weir
Raven Owen
Isaiah Gurley

Forwards

Phil Valenti
Kevin Bleeker
Jermaine Crumpton
Cassidy Ryan
Ronald Gombe